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Health official: ‘I encourage everyone to get vaccinated, including your booster’

The latest data reported from the Health Department of Northwest Michigan over the course of the past month has revealed the majority of the agency’s 2,322 new COVID-19 cases from Nov. 8-Dec. 12 were not vaccinated.

According to the health department’s “Case Trend Summary for November 8 — December 12” which was compiled into a report to show residents a picture of COVID-19 in the community, of cases with a confirmatory COVID-19 test, 63.7% of cases were not vaccinated or did not meet the criteria of a fully vaccinated individual.

Fully vaccinated individuals meet the following criteria:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

In addition, 68% of hospitalizations were among unvaccinated individuals, while 73.9% of COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated individuals.

“The number of cases continues to put pressure on health care systems, hospitals, businesses due to worker shortages, and schools and families,” the health department said in a press release issued Thursday.

Throughout the state, more than 55% of residents age 5 and older are fully vaccinated (two weeks following a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or one week following a Johnson & Johnson vaccine). As the fully vaccinated population has increased, so have the percentage of breakthrough incidents.

An infographic, which may be viewed at /nwhealth.org/pubs/MDHHS%20Vax.pdf, released from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services illustrates when more people are vaccinated, more cases may still come from the vaccinated population.

Breakthrough cases are formally defined as the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person who is more than 14 days after completion all recommended doses of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

The risk of infection, grave illness and death remains significantly lower among the fully vaccinated, the health department noted.

Additionally, Munson Healthcare officials recently said they are experiencing an unprecedented number of hospitalizations specifically because of COVID-19. Among these COVID-driven hospitalizations, many patients are being elevated to the intensive care unit, where they may require the support of a ventilator to assist with breathing difficulties.

As reflected in current data, the vast majority of patients who’ve been hospitalized at Munson Healthcare for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is still the best tool we have to moderate the impact of this pandemic,” said Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan said. “Vaccines protect us from severe disease. Booster doses have shown to further reduce the risk of disease and reduce infection rates.

“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated, including your booster dose as soon as you are eligible.”

In addition to getting vaccinated, Meyerson urged everyone to continue to practice mitigation measures including masking at work and indoor public places. Further, residents should stay home if they have symptoms such as chills, fever, or mild respiratory/flu-like illness, he added.

The health department on Thursday also reported a total of 205 new COVID-19 cases from Tuesday, Dec. 14, through Thursday, Dec. 16.

On Tuesday, 74 new cases were reported including nine in Antrim, 25 in Charlevoix, 27 in Emmet and 13 in Otsego, while on Wednesday 76 new cases of the illness were confirmed including 15 in Antrim, 24 in Charlevoix, 22 in Emmet and 15 in Otsego.

Four new COVID-19 associated deaths were also reported, including two in Charlevoix County and one each in Emmet and Otsego counties.

On Thursday, 55 new cases were identified including 13 in Antrim, 12 in Charlevoix, 14 in Emmet and 16 in Otsego, while two new COVID-19 associated deaths were reported including one in Antrim County and one in Otsego County.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, there have been a total of 227 COVID-19 associated deaths including 46 in Antrim, 49 in Charlevoix, 57 in Emmet and 75 in Otsego.

For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org.

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